Monday, July 22, 2013

Jersey Caprese Salad, Hold the Basil


I think there is another reason I am still living in New Jersey (besides its close proximity to Manhattan).

Just to have those 3 months to grow and eat tomatoes.
Yes, they are that good, cause believe me, the weather is annoying as are some other things which I will not complain to you about today.

I know you've seen a billion Caprese salads out there, but this one today is different.

Why?

Because I used 5 varieties of heirlooms plus cherry and grape tomatoes that I picked yesterday.

Because I used an amazing special balsamic vinegar made from Moscato grapes from Asti in Piedmont.


Because I stole Lori Lynn's idea and used fennel pollen (flowers) and thyme blossoms instead of the traditional basil (thank you LL).

WOW.

Where do you get the fennel flowers?
Off the fennel plants, silly. This week only.


Lucky for me, my immediate neighbor at the MCG grows fennel.
It is very delicate and wilts by the time I get it in the car for the ride home from the garden (about an 8 mile drive).

It smells like anise, and crumbled on the fresh burrata with the spicy tomatoes, it is truly what summer in NJ is all about (maybe summer in Piedmont too).

Here's how:

Arrange a variety of cut up and sliced heirloom tomatoes on a big platter. Scatter with sliced sweet 100's and yellow pear tomatoes.


Place big clumps of fresh mozzarella cheese or burrata (even better).

Sprinkle everything liberally with sea salt (I love Maldon).
Next, a few cranks of black pepper.

Drizzle with the best aceto balsamico money can buy and some great olive oil (use it sparingly).


Arrange the thyme blossoms and pinch the fennel flowers in between your fingers and scatter over everything.

On a side note:
The waitress we had this weekend at a favorite Jersey shore spot told us the specials for the evening.
She said they had the "Jersey Hair Loom Tomatoes with a Vinegar ette".

Jersey fresh.

:)

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13 comments:

Natalia said...

Your tomatoes look yummy! Do you think adding green tomatoes would also work? We don't grow as many varieties as you have, but I plan on trying this caprese salad. I never thought of adding fennel flowers - sounds interesting.

Natalia

Anonymous said...

"Hairlooms and a vinegarette"! Only in Jersey. I love it!

Your salad looks amazing, but I know I will never find the fennel pollen, so guess will just use basil.

Beautiful!

Stacey Snacks said...

Natalia,
Use any variety of tomato you like.

No rules for a Caprese salad!

Stacey

The Food Hunter said...

I miss Jersey Tomatoes!! This is a great caprese...I love the idea of adding the fennel instead of basil. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

You are constantly making fun of people on your blog. Maybe you can cook but you are obviously not a nice person.

Jan said...

Stacey,
personally, not sure why you let these anonymous commenters have a forum here........they obviously don't get your humor and wit.

You are so funny and I know you are nice, because you share your recipes with us everyday and I know what hard work goes into writing and photographing, and I also know that you do it for no money.

So Mr. or Ms. Anonymous: it's a free country, and if you don't like the woman's blog, STOP reading it!

Your biggest fan in Minnesota!
Jan

Stacey Snacks said...

Jan,
Thanks for sticking up for me, but it's ok. I never said I was nice and not everyone is going to like me.....

At least they said I was a good cook!

Stacey :)

SarahB said...

I second Jan's motion. It takes a whole lotta love to do what you do every day for our pleasure! Thank you Ms. Snacks!!

Proud Italian Cook said...

What is it about these Jersey tomatoes? I must try them!

Jackie said...

It's ok to be a food snob and call people out on things...........that's why I read you everyday, because you say it like it is and don't beat around the bush!

You don't play it safe and I love every one of your recipes to boot.

Keep poking fun and having fun!

Love, Jackie

Lori Lynn said...

Oh gosh Stace - these comments are priceless! You rock my friend. I can taste this salad all the way over here in California...or at least I wish I could, no Jersey tomatoes in site. But we do have some nice hair looms at the farmers markets.
Thanks for mentioning me, I walk every day along the coast and this fennel grows wild. And I've said, I hike with scissors, even today I have a big bouquet of wild fennel stalks in my kitchen, its perfume is heavenly.
LL

Terrah said...

Hi Stacey!

You have me drooling first thing in the morning. For all the offended readers regarding the "hairloom" comment, it was done with affection and seeing as how Stacey is a Jersey girl, I'm sure it was even a little self-deprecating.

I'm from Philly myself and I now live in the "deep fried" south. First, that comment brought a little bit of "home" to my morning. Second, when Natalia mentioned green tomatoes, I immediately thought that those would make for a great Southern/Caprese fusion of a salad. You know, Southerners with their fried green tomatoes?

Anonymous said...

Oh no! What would I do if you ever STOPPED giving us anonymous commenters a forum on your blog!?! I don't believe that will happen because I think you like some lively back-n'-forth. A reader who gets huffy about you poking a little fun at some Jersey provincialism is just adding a little MORE fun to the mix. As always, keep on bloggin', Ms. Snacks. - Sincerely, your favorite Anon